Give Your Plants A Pinch From Time To Time

As a plant begins to grow from a seed, it usually breaks through the soil as a single stem upon which leaves begin to form. The plant will continue to grow in this single stem formation indefinitely if not pinched. Eventually, the plant will begin to allow new buds to open, causing the plant to become bushy.

However, the plant’s bushiness can be stimulated early during the plant’s growth by simply removing the tip of the plant manually. This helps to develop full, lush plants rapidly and can be performed on some plants like Fuchsia. Flowering starts later, but in the end the look can be much more beautiful.

Here’s what you need to know about pinching.

kim gardens Give Your Plants A Pinch From Time To Time

What is Pinching?

Pinching is a simple pruning method generally used on young plants to encourage branching and for them to become fuller and bushy.  This is done by simply removing the tip of the plant manually.

Why Do People Pinch?

The idea is that each time you remove a main stem, your plant will try to grow two new stems beneath the pinch or cut.  This process is repeated to encourage fullness and keep the plant size in check.

When To Pinch?

Once your young plant has formed a few pairs of leaves on a stem, it is ready to be pinched. Plants grow buds at the base of each leaf, just above the point where the leaf connects to the stem. This is called a node.

How To Pinch?

Just a soft pinch will remove the upper most portion of the stem where the developing leaves and tip are.  A hard pinch helps to remove a longer portion of the stem.  Use your fingernails or a small tool like a micro scissor for this kind of fine, delicate pruning.

Where To Pinch?

We recommend that you pinch the stems just above a set of leaves as as close to the nodes as possible. This will provide you a relatively nice looking plant as you wait for new leaves and stems to grow within a few days.

To reduce bushiness, pinch budding growth from just above a leaf, but do not remove the inter-node and growth above that leaf.

What Type Of Plants Need Pinching?

To encourage flowers and seeds

Some of the popular bedding plants that can benefit from pinching are petunias, fuchsias,dahlias or sweet peas.  Edible herbs like basil are also best harvested via pinching, which encourages new edible growth and discourages flowers and seeds. 

To deter growth

Pinching is also used to refer to the removal of new shoots to deter growth. In plants like tomatoes, stems often form more side shoots and get bushier than we want. 

In order to control this growth, pinch out some selected buds along the stem to reduce the bushy jungle the plant may form. This can also encourage a plant like tomatoes to put energy into forming more fruit on the remaining stems.

So there you have it.  

Just remember that pinching must be done properly and should not be performed on more mature plants, woody shrubs or trees as it can be seriously detrimental to your plant.

kim gardens Give Your Plants A Pinch From Time To Time

Happy gardening!
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